Covid lockdown: China censuring people’s pleas on social media amid food and medicine shortages

Chinese people under lockdown complaining about food and medicine shortages have prompted the authorities to censure their desperate pleas on social media platforms as the country’s draconian ‘zero-Covid’ policy takes a toll.

At least 30 regions are under partial or full lockdowns where tens of millions of people have been ordered to stay at home.

According to the Guardian, which has cited a leaked directive published by the China Digital Times (CDT), censors have been ordered to flood social media with trivial posts about Xinjiang— a region under lockdown for over a month—to dilute complaints of food and medication shortages.

“There are no subject matter restrictions. Content may include domestic life, daily parenting, cooking, or personal moods. All internet commentary personnel should post once an hour (twice in total), but not in rapid succession! Repeat: not in rapid succession!” the directive said, according to CDT’s translation.

Authorities have been scurrying to contain local outbreaks ahead of the Communist Party of China’s Congress in October.

China’s zero-Covid policy requires strict lockdowns, even if just a handful of cases are reported. On Monday, China recorded 949 new Covid cases, the BBC reported.

During the 40-day lockdown, people in Xinjiang’s Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture near the border with Kazakhstan, desperate residents have been making a fervent appeal for help on social media,

One post showed a video of an emotional Uyghur man saying his three children had not eaten for three days.

In Ili, the capital of northwest Yining city, a shared online document of over 300 urgent requests for food, medicine and sanitary pads went viral.

“I’m out of money to buy supplies. My wife is pregnant and we have two kids. We are running out of gas. My wife needs a medical check,” said a resident.

The region houses Han Chinese, Kazakh and Uyghur residents.

Similarly, in south-western Guizhou province, officials locked down an area of the provincial capital Guiyang without giving a warning, leaving 500,000 residents stranded at home without any chance to prepare to stock basic supplies.

According to the Guardian, lifts were switched off in buildings to stop people from leaving.

The reports of Chinese people struggling for food and aid come a month after a long-awaited UN report which accused Beijing of “serious human rights violations” against Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

(With inputs from agencies)